Water Meters - FAQ's

Water Meters; Your Questions Answered

A water meter works in the same way as a gas or electricity meter, it records the amount of water used rather than the traditional flat charge based on the value of your property. It also helps us to have a better understanding of our water usage and encourages us to save water. A water meter calculator that can be found either through contacting your water company supplier or the Consumer Council for Water, which can help you estimate whether installing a water meter will help you save money.

How is my bill calculated if I have a meter?

Your water company will usually read your meter twice a year. If they are unable to read your meter, they will estimate how much water you have used so they can then send you a bill. You can also provide a meter reading to your supplier yourself at any time, with many water companies offering this service online.

It is worth reading your water meter regularly and providing the water company with this information so your bills are more accurate. It will also help you track how much water you are using, making it easier to spot leaks. Most of the customers begin to save water after installing a water meter while attempting to save money.

If you are on a water meter your bill is usually made up of:

  • a standing charge for water, which is fixed and covers the costs to the company of reading, maintaining and replacing meters and administering customers’ accounts;
  • a charge for water used, measured in cubic metres (m3);
  • a standing charge for used (waste) water, which is fixed and covers the same costs as the standing charge outlined above; and
  • a charge for collecting and treating your dirty water, measured in cubic metres.

How is my water bill calculated if I do not have a water meter?

Most households in England and Wales are charged for water where the price is fixed depending on a home's 'rateable value', so the amount of water used does not influence the water bill charge.

This means the more your home can be rented out for, the more you will pay. In this system, even if you save water through reducing your water usage, you will not be able to save money as your water bill price is fixed.

This is similar to Scotland water bills are based on council tax bands and in Northern Ireland, domestic customers don't pay separate bills for their water at all.

If you are an unmetered customer in England, you can apply to receive an assessed bill. The way that assessed charges are set varies from company to company. Assessed bill is going to be more accurate in reflecting your actual water usage than a bill based on a fixed charge; hence you might still save some money.

The most common charges for unmetered customers are based on:

  • the number of bedrooms in your property;
  • the type of property you live in;
  • the number of people who live in the property; or
  • the fixed charge based on the average metered bill in your company’s area.